Today was the last day of “work” for me on the cruise. I was part of an Oceans View panel — the second such discussion we have had. I was paired with former CENTCOM Commander and 4 star general Anthony Zinni who had extensive experience on diplomatic missions, including in the Middle East, for our government. Also on the panel was Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the former UK National Security Advisor, Ambassador to the UN and Ambassador to Pakistan among other assignments.
I’m always bemused to find myself sitting with such folks. I recognize that my own journey has given me exposure to a range of issues and experiences that I would never have thought would be mine as a kid growing up in Minnesota. And I have to confess that I’m always reluctant to set my self forth as a “world affairs expert” on such panels.
I’m always gratified then when folks come up to me afterwards to say that they enjoyed my perspective or that I sparked them to think a bit differently about one issue or another. That’s all I really hope to do. Spark discussion and encourage folks to look at questions that challenge us, that affect our world, and will shape the future our children and grandchildren will confront.
I always feel though, that I should be smarter, more insightful, more helpful to folks as we seek to understand the ever-more complex issues that we face. But all I can do is offer what I know and believe and hope that it is enough.
Nonetheless, although I may not always feel that I’m up to the task, I realize that I’m still excited to be given the chance in my lectures and even on such panels to speak out on issues I believe are important and that matter.
Today, I’m exhaling deeply, taking a break from the stage on the ship. But the issues matter and all of us should care, should speak and engage. So, I’ll continue to be a reluctant “expert” when called on…but not for the next ten days!
New Zealand here we come.